Williams Pens Guest Column for American Magazine About Death of Emmett Till

Shannen Dee Williams, assistant professor in the Department of History, was a recent guest columnist for America Magazine.

Her column, titled Emmett Till: The Lynching That Shook the Conscience of the World, expanded on the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old boy from Chicago, Illinois.

Williams claims that aside from the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., there was no hate murder that had a greater impact on the 20th-century struggle for African-American freedom than the lynching of Till.

New information, including new evidence from the trial, has become available, and sparked conversation over the role Till’s death played in African-Americans’ fight for equal rights.

According to Williams, Till’s mother’s courageous insistence on an open-casket funeral in Chicago and the subsequent acquittal of his killers radicalized a generation of African-Americans fighting for democracy and equal rights. It also ensured that future generations of African Americans would know Till’s name and the basic story of his fatal encounter with Jim Crow segregation.